UFO watch (Episode 05 – Survival)

05 - survivalWritten by Tony Barwick
Directed by Alan Perry

A UFO lands on the moon and the alien shoots out a window on Moonbase, killing a SHADO worker.  As so often, the aliens’ motives remain unclear – why travel all that way for such a minor attack?

As the UFO is still on the Moon, Straker is keen to capture it.  New Moonbase commander Paul Foster is more interested in killing the alien in order to avenge the murder of one of his men, but things don’t quite go as expected.

As ever with UFO, there’s some gorgeous modelwork – the lunar surface is particuarly impressive. The full size lunar landscape looks very good too, although some of the rocks do have a tendency to wobble when somebody is thrown against them!

The main plotline develops in an interesting way, Foster leads a party to capture the UFO but it’s destroyed by the interceptors after the Moonbase party is attacked.  Foster is reported as missing, believed dead.  The alien is still alive though, saves Foster’s life and together the two of them begin the long trek back to Moonbase.

It’s surprising that everybody gives Foster up for dead so quickly.  Even if they were convinced that he couldn’t have survived you would have thought that they would have gone back to retrieve his body.  But his apparent death leaves a vacancy which Straker proposes to fill with Mark Bradley.

Bradley is reluctant for several reasons, not least his colour.  Straker is unconvinced by this, telling him that racial prejudice burned itself out five years ago.  This, of course, must stand as UFO’s least convincing predication of the future!  After winning him round with such winning words as “I don’t care if you’re polka dot with red stripes, do you want the job?”, Bradley agrees.

The lunar scenes with Foster and the alien are quite slow paced, understandable in a way because they have to simulate the lack of gravity and also since the alien and Foster can’t communicate.  But they could have done with a bit of trimming, as this section does drag a little.

But it’s a key story as it’s the first to portray the aliens in, for want of a better word, a more human light and not as implacable killers.  But as the series always had a fairly pessimistic viewpoint it’s probably no surprise that Foster’s new-found friendship is very short lived.

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